Beware of rattlesnakes, as rattlesnake season begins

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- Rattlesnake season is here for Arizona.

Usually in September, more people call to report snake bites. In fact, a medical toxicologist said she has already seen three patients bitten by a snake over the Labor Day weekend.

Sometimes, rattlesnakes give off a warning by making a rattling noise, but that's not always the case. Jessica Young said she was camping over the holiday weekend and walking through a sandy area at Bartlett Lake when a snake suddenly came out from a grassy patch and just bit her.

That bite sent Young to the Intensive Care Unit.

"Very terrifying, especially being out in a remote area and no one had cell service," said Young, whose leg was still swollen, two days later.

"Definitely shocked. I knew that I had just gotten bitten by a rattle, and I knew we were out in a remote area, So it was very, 'oh my gosh, we gotta get outta here'-type scenario," said Young. "The pain wasn't bad initially. I was able to run back to where we were, able to set up our camp site where the tent was."

Young said the excruciating pain started an hour later. Her son was with her the whole time.

"He sat with me in the truck the whole time, and held my hand," said Young "Every time I would go to close my eyes, after a while you get sleepy, you want to go to sleep and he said, 'mom, don't close your eyes. Don't close your eyes. They're not here yet.'"

Jessica was eventually airlifted. Her doctor told her it will take a whole month for her to recover fully. Last year, the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center answered 91 snakebite calls from Maricopa County. 20% of those calls came in September.

"I've seen snakes on various mountains in the Phoenix area, and really, I've never had any concern that they were a threat to me," said Dr. Michelle Ruha with the U of A College of Medicine and Banner University Medical Center. "I've been on at least three or four hiking trips in Phoenix and encountered a snake, and if you just stay away from it and leave it alone, it's not a problem."

Snakes are active all summer, but they come out more often in September as the weather cools down, which results in more people getting bit. If not treated in a timely fashion, Dr. Ruha says poisonous rattlesnake bites can even be deadly.

Snakebites First Aid advice from Mayo Clinic
In the event of a venomous (poisonous) snakebite, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY